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By Lum, Lydia | Diverse Issues in Higher Education, September 30, 2010 | Go to article overview

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Lum, Lydia, Diverse Issues in Higher Education


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It's no surprise that Aaron Andrews has been fond of historically Black colleges and universities all his adult life. He credits the mentoring he received at Morgan State University, where he earned a bachelor's in physical education, for transforming "an insecure, inner-city kid" into a first-generation college graduate now bringing education to another generation of disadvantaged minorities.

As president and chief executive officer of the United Negro College Fund Special Programs Corporation (UNCFSPC) since 2004, Andrews heads an organization spun off from UNCF a decade ago to provide minority-serving institutions, including Hispanic-serving and tribal colleges, services and programs focused on capacity building, training and work-force development. Federal monies finance about 90 percent of what UNCFSPC sponsors. Partner agencies include the U.S. Agency in International Development, NASA and the Departments of Defense, Justice and Interior.

Before 2000, UNCFSPC was a division of UNCF focused on federal programs. While the two organizations may seem similar from the outside, UNCF handles only private monies, providing operating funds for its 39 member HBCUs and scholarships to students of color attending any college.

Since its inception, UNCFSPC has sponsored more than 260 training and technical-assistance workshops. With a $7 million annual budget, it also has awarded

* More than 330 faculty and professional fellowships;

* More than 1,030 student fellowships and internships and;

* More than 220 faculty research grants.

The organization's science and technology division sponsors major portions of those awards in response to the well-documented dearth of Blacks, Latinos and American Indians in those fields. Among the many programs are paid summer internships for undergraduates in biotechnology, computer science and environmental science.

"Once in a lifetime experiences are invaluable," student Maria Draine, who interned one summer at Argonne National Laboratory, wrote in a 2009 UNCFSPC newsletter. …

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